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TO THE LAW AND TO THE TESTIMONY : IF THEY SPEAK NOT ACCORDING TO THIS WORD, IT IS BECAUSE THERE IS NO LIGHT IN THEM.
ISAIAH viii. 20.
THESE Essays were first published in numbers, price one penny each, in the years 1793 and 1794 : the period of publication, once a fortnight. They have been since re-printed ten or twelve times in this country, besides American Editions.---J. S.
ES SA Y S,
The original design of this compendious work was, in some respects, different from the direction which it took during the course of its publication. The author intended, by a series of Essays, each comprised in a single number, to guard the minds of young people, especially, against the infidelity and scepticism of modern times; as well as to give a distinct view of the grand peculiarities, and excellent tendency of genuine Christianity. He purposed not to be strictly methodical, argumentative, or systematic; but to treat a variety of subjects in a familiar, easy, and engaging manner. The attempt, however, soon convinced him, that he had not the requisite talents for Essays of this description; and that he must leave it to persons of a more versatile and happy genius to furnish that species of publication, which seems most suited to the present circumstances, and best adapted to the taste of modern readers.
As, however, the Essays first published met with great encouragement, and had considerable circulation, he proceeded on the plan to which he found himself most competent: and, without the least previous design, he at length completed, ac
cording to his views, a compendious system of the Christian religion.
In the subsequent editions, great pains have been bestowed in correcting the inaccuracies of the style; in rendering perspicuous such passages as had been left rather obscure from regard to brevity; in giving energy to some arguments which had not been stated in their full force; and in placing several illustrations to greater advantage. Peculiar care has likewise been taken to render the scriptural references and quotations accurate; and further proof from the sacred oracles has frequently been adduced, in support of the conclusions which had been formed : a correct and copious Index, for the convenience of the reader has also been annexed.
The work, thus revised, the author commends to the candour of the public, from which it has already met with a favourable reception: and he earnestly begs the prayers of all pious Christians for the divine blessing on this attempt, and on all his other feeble endeavours to spread the knowledge of the blessed gospel of God our Saviour; and to excite and direct believers to adorn that holy doctrine by their whole conduct and conversation.
August 7, 1814.